Note: no spoilers here…
It's been more than two years since Jessica Jones first punched, kicked, swore and drank her way onto Netflix in what is arguably Marvel's best TV adaptation to date. Her appearance in last year's limited series The Defenders aside, it's been a long wait for season two, especially when the first season left Jessica (Krysten Ritter) in a bleaker place than ever before, branded a killer – in her eyes at least – having very publicly broken the neck of her tormentor, Kilgrave (David Tennant).
Created by Melissa Rosenberg, whose credits include Dexter and The OC, the first season was a dark, witty and stylish introduction to the reluctant superhero-turned-private-investigator that gripped from the off. Over 13 episodes, it deftly encompassed such strong subjects as PTSD, abortion, rape and domestic abuse, as Jessica tried to escape the events of her immediate past, notably mind-controlling Kilgrave's hold on her.
With him now dead and gone (Or is he? Spoiler alert: Tennant is back for some of season two), the second season has a wider scope than the first, not only focusing on Jessica but also those who have the fortune – and misfortune, more often than not – to be around her.
This means bigger stories and more revelations about the past for Jessica's best friend, former child star Trish (Rachael Taylor), and recovering addict Malcolm (Eka Darville), as well as a deeper look at one of the show's most fascinating characters, lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), who, as Jessica might say, really has some of her own shit to deal with this time around.
New characters have been seamlessly woven into the fabric of the show, too, including JR Ramirez as the new superintendent for Jessica's building, Terry Chen as smarmy business rival Pryce Cheng who wants Jessica's business (why? she only makes enough money to keep herself in whiskey), and superb British actress Janet McTeer as a woman who may be able to answer some of Jessica's questions about her past. There's also the welcome return of Rebecca De Mornay as Trish's mum Dorothy, surely one of the worst mothers to ever grace our TV screens.
While the beginning of the new season lacks the focus of the first, and is missing a truly menacing bad guy for Jessica to go up against, the new additions and expanded storylines don't detract from Ritter's powerhouse performance. She is still very much front and centre, delivering pithy lines in between slugs of bourbon, such as her deadpan response to Cheng's "I never take 'no' for an answer": "How very rapey of you."
And it's an even more raw and exposed Jessica that we get to meet this season. Following the death of Kilgrave, the public doesn't see her as a superhero but instead as a vigilante killer, and the show explores just what that means as a new case causes her to investigate her own past, the days and months following the accident that killed her parents and brother.
Just what did happen to her? And how much does the death and destruction around her affect her – has she survived Kilgrave only to be brought down by other secrets and betrayals? She's certainly even more on edge than before, but as a super-powered stranger succinctly puts it when he crosses her path: "With great power comes great mental illness."
Set to be released on Netflix on International Women's Day (fittingly, every episode of Jessica Jones this season is directed by women), this season is more noir than the first – slowly spending time on characterisations, Jessica's origin story and how she has changed since the events of season one.
It means things do move at a leisurely pace, but it also gives Ritter time to really flesh out her portrayal as the battered-and-bruised detective hits harder, spews meaner comebacks and goes that little bit further over the edge (a scene at an anger management class is a particularly pithy treat).
Pacing quibbles aside, this is a darkly enjoyable return for Jessica Jones, thanks to the strong scripts, slick direction and Ritter's gripping performance. And with the promised return of the mesmerising Tennant as Kilgrave later in the season, it can only get better…
Jessica Jones season 2 is on Netflix now.